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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Soviet Vote Shows Reds' True Colors

Parliament's vote to reinstate the Soviet Union has no legal force, and will have little practical effect, at least in the short term. Nevertheless, it should send shock waves through Russia, the former Soviet republics, and the West.


As it begins to feel its strength, the Communist Party has abandoned its mask of "social democracy" and has shown itself to be an angry, revanchist party of the past.


The Baltics have already reacted, loudly, to Friday's denunciation of the Belovezhskaya Pushcha accords dissolving the Soviet Union. Other former republics are sure to follow suit. With the exception of Belarus, the independent states making up Russia's "near abroad" have made it abundantly clear that they are not interested in a reincarnation of the old regime.


While there may be some motion toward a closer economic union, and a simplification of border and visa regulations, this is a far cry from the Moscow-centered world of the past.


The Soviet Union was not forcibly dissolved, it collapsed under its own weight. President Boris Yeltsin was correct in his remarks that the dissolution was in progress for more than a decade.


The disintegration of the world's largest nation has caused a great deal of economic hardship and psychological trauma. It is not surprising that there is a segment of the population that will never accept it, and Friday's vote was clearly aimed at inflating the hopes of those who dream of a return to superpower status and the 5-kopek metro ride.


But a vote in parliament is not going to undo years of painful reform.


What it will do is raise political tensions and sharpen the tone of debate in an already overcharged period. This could be more dangerous than any of the participants in today's parliamentary show of strength anticipated.


The move could backfire on Gennady Zyuganov and his Communist Party.


Zyuganov, the presidential candidate of the united left, has attempted to widen his electoral base by downplaying his party's links with the old-style Communists. He has also been at pains to pose as a benign social democrat, which has won him points in the West, at such international gatherings as the economic forum in Davos, Switzerland.


It is difficult to see how Friday's vote could win him votes at home. Those who support the reintegration of the Soviet Union were probably already on the Zyuganov bandwagon, while those who may have begun to be swayed by his soft-pedaled rhetoric could be frightened away.


At the very least, Friday's vote is a blatant example of irresponsible grandstand legislation. It is also a troubling harbinger of what Russia and the West could face if the Communists succeed in June's presidential ballot.